The first time Alejandra stepped on a brothel was in Pajas Blancas, Córdoba. It worked in an exposed brick chalet with a tiled roof and was presented as a “night club.” It was a Friday night and she was premiere: a short dress and pink platforms that she loved. The brown curlers, loose on the shoulders. It had come from the hand of the “old Tello”, a sixty owner of an academy of dental mechanics where he worked for a few months. He had bought her clothes: he told her they were going to a party at a bowling alley. Nothing else. When he saw her come in, Flor, one of the local girls, sat her at the bar:
– Stay here, “Daddy” is coming.
The daddy. So they said “their girls” to R.M, the fiolo. “You are going to start working here as a girl. We are going to take care of you, what problem do you have? Are you missing money?” He asked when he saw her, while he patted her leg. Alejandra's house, in the commercial district – a settlement that had not reached either the asphalt or the services – was a piece without a bathroom or kitchen. Crowded with mattresses made with rags, 20 people lived: their parents, their seven brothers, the children of their sisters and their partners. They all ate from the same pot, which they heated in some fathoms. That night, his mother, who knew where the daughter was being taken, had asked her to return with money. Alejandra felt that all her family's hunger fell on her shoulders. That night, in that den where he was given cocaine for the first time, he became a victim of trafficking. I was 12 years old.
Escaping sexual exploitation took almost three decades. Rearm his life, five more years. Today, Alejandra is 46 and only in 2014 could she recognize herself, thanks to her friend, activist Alika Kinan, for what she was: a victim of trafficking. That is the first challenge, but not the only one, faced by women who are rescued from sexual exploitation. Then comes to get a decent job – many, they couldn't even finish school; a place to live; rebuild ties with their families; detoxify the addictions with which their exploiters sought to break them; Survive the trauma According to Gustavo Vera, from
Alameda Foundation, the process takes them, at least and with the necessary support, between three and five years.
When talking about organized crime and secrecy, the figures are always inaccurate. Those that exist are only an approximation to an underground reality. Since the enactment in 2008 of Law 26,364, on Prevention and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons and Assistance to its Victims -modified and expanded by No. 26,842 in 2012-, there were 276 sentences for crimes of sexual exploitation, which involved 971 women victims The numbers are from the Office of Trafficking and Exploitation of Persons (Protex).
On the other hand, according to a recent multi-ministerial report submitted to the US Department of State,
Only last year were 522 victims rescued from brothels in Argentina. On line 145 (for assistance and reporting of trafficking in persons), 870 complaints of sexual exploitation were received in 2018; between 2016 and 2017, it was 1718.
Poverty, marginality, social exclusion and sexist violence are the main causes that drag victims to trafficking. Many are women who suffered domestic violence and abuse of all kinds in their childhood. They leave their homes cheated with promises of work and fall into a system where exploitation operates like a Swiss clock.
The threats against them and their families, and “the squeeze” of their abusers for non-existent debts, are a constant: “I give you this money to send to your family, but see that you will have to work hard to pay for it”, It is the phrase that is repeated in the stories. They convince them that there is no way out. Is that or the street. That or hunger. That or death.
“Whores are not born from a cabbage: they come from poverty. Many victims see their exploiters as someone who is going to get them out of that situation, when in truth they are used in the worst way a human being can be used, who it is slavery, “says Alika Kinan, who was sexually exploited from the age of 18 until she was rescued in 2012. Her case was a hinge: she was the first victim to become a complainant and have Justice condemn her exploiters, recognizing state collusion (see separate).
“In the social imaginary it is installed that if you are not kidnapped or you can go out and enter the brothel to the street, you are not a victim. But in prostitution there are no rights. It is modern slavery,” says Alika. Trafficking networks have much more sophisticated methods than kidnapping. “They are psychological methods to reach the victim and even have a certain gratitude towards their pimps. Self-esteem is destroyed,” he summarizes.
The day after
Alejandra's voice is brought by the telephone from the end of the world. He lives in Ushuaia, with his four-year-old twins, in an apartment. To achieve this, he wrote a handwriting note that he took to the Provincial Housing Institute, where he told his story. Since February 18 of this year, she has been working as a cleaning staff at the National University of Tierra del Fuego: there the doors were opened when they were all closed and she never tires of thanking Juan José Castelucci, her rector.
“My only CV was 30 years at night,” says Alejandra, who always laughs: she says that's it, or cry. Today it is where it is thanks to a chain of actors that includes the provincial government, the General Directorate of Accompaniment, Orientation and Protection of Victims (Dovic), Protex and their friend, Alika.
In 2013 he quit alcohol, pucho, drugs. In the morning he works and in the afternoon he studies computer science: he would like to reach an administrative position at the university. A few months ago and pushed by the local gender office, therapy began. But when he walks down the street with his children, looking back became a reflex act: “Never,” he confesses, “I am relieved. There is always someone who wants to charge you something.”
When I was a girl, Alejandra didn't want to stay at home raising children like her sisters. His mother told him that, for that, he had to go to work. He could go clean to the same place where an older sister, who had just given birth, had worked. Alejandra took a bus and 45 minutes later she was at the Space Gallery, in the center of Córdoba. He climbed a red ladder and knocked on a local door. The old Tello opened. “He wouldn't let me grab a broom. He touched my legs, arms, sat on top of me and asked me to show him the bombshell. When the students of the dental mechanics academy arrived, he made me sell them spatulas and acrylic for the teeth, “he remembers. That smell, that of acrylic, is not forgotten anymore.
Since the night that man took her to Pajas Blancas and handed her over to the trafficking network, Alejandra became a banknote machine for her operators: “At first, it was a copera, there was no sex. Then they took me to a private , an apartment. RM had a lot in Córdoba. There: a guy put me in a room, climbed on me and I didn't know how to defend myself. It was the most violent night of my life. “
Waiting sitting in the kitchen of an apartment to ring the bell, became a custom. Customers passed by and made 30 “passes” per day. Alejandra never touched a weight. The silver was always handled by R.M, who bought what she asked for and sent a portion to her family. He always blamed him for how much he owed him.
Traffic dragged her from Punta del Este to Mar de Ajó. His exploiters were changing faces: “In 2007, my brother became my father. I arrived in Ushuaia escaping from him. A girl I had met on the coast contacted me with people there, they sent me the ticket and bought me the Sheikh “.
At that point, Alejandra's story intersects with Alika's. The Sheikh was a brothel in the center of the city. About 30 girls lived there, seven per room.
On October 9, 2012 the music stopped suddenly. Alika and Alejandra were alone in the room. They thought they had come to steal. Through the window, they saw the trucks of the Gendarmerie. “We will go to jail,” they said. When they knocked on the door and told them about “rescue,” they didn't understand anything. They had never heard of trafficking. “The only thing we understood was that we stayed on the street,” says Alejandra.
-Come, let's have coffee.
Alika proposed to Alejandra when she crossed it on the street in 2014. The former had returned south to take her captors to the bench of the accused. The second, which after the Sheikh had passed through other brothels, had just had his twins. “Boluda, you are a victim. Me too. All. Your brother used you, before another guy, and before another. That is to be a victim: you don't have a weight because you spent your life paying debts you didn't have,” he said. Alika said. Alejandra dropped the card. But he never decided to denounce his exploiters. “When the Shaykh happened, I didn't want to get into a quilombo. The guys who were in the police station and in the municipality were the same ones I saw in the brothel. It also never occurred to me to report RM. He's a screwed guy,” he says. Alexandra.
“La Carla went crazy: she says she is a victim,” said her former Sheik companions. La Carla was Alika's night name. Alejandra was the only one who appeared as a witness in her friend's historical trial. When he heard the ruling, he also felt that justice was being done for her. For all.
On September 3, at 9, the Study, Training and Research Program on Trafficking in Persons of the National University of San Martín (Unsam) will hold a symposium on what is exploitation, open to the public and free. In addition, on November 21 and 22, there will be an international conference on trafficking, for which they invite those who want to join as sponsors. More information in:
Where to ask for help
On line 145 you can request information, assistance and report all types of cases of trafficking in persons; It works 24 hours a day, all over the country and is anonymous